During the weekend, former President Trump raised the stakes in Ohio’s Senate Republican primary by rallying behind his supported candidate, novelist J.D. Vance.
“I want to choose a winner. Undeniably, this man will win,” Trump remarked as he presented Vance on stage at the Delaware County Fairgrounds just days before May 3.
It was the latest tense moment in the heated GOP Senate battle to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
It also jeopardized the former president’s role as a Republican Party kingmaker in 2024. Trump’s nomination of Vance provoked discontent among his supporters.
Vance called Trump “the big man” and said he accepted “all the ideas we loved,” including China, big-tech regulation, and constructing the southern border wall.
Donald Trump defended his endorsement of JD Vance in Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate primary at a rally in the central part of the state https://t.co/LJjw2NJsdQ
— Bloomberg (@business) April 24, 2022
“Trump showed us that we live in a very corrupt country.” Vance then said the 2020 election had been rigged and said he was “the America First candidate.”
To this, Trump responded with his usual red meat diatribe against illegal immigrants, foreign leaders, the media, along with Democrats, and the Republican establishment.
At that, Trump urged the audience to vote for Vance, attacking Republican opponents.
Trump Jr. has visited the state many times to campaign for Vance. Trump hailed his efforts from the podium, as did tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel and Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
Trump allegedly sent an obscenity-laced message to Club for Growth head David McIntosh after the group vowed to back former state treasurer Josh Mandel. Mandel already has former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn’s support.
Vance, a prominent venture capitalist, fought for Trump’s backing for almost a year, including an “Apprentice”-style office sit-down audition in March 2021.
Trump’s support for Vance angered Mandel’s supporters. Vance has been the only candidate to show up at the event.
'Booing is entirely appropriate!': Ohio conservative group urging disruption at Trump rally https://t.co/yGjREaomUy
— Raw Story (@RawStory) April 23, 2022
Donations and Initial Stance
Mandel said Trump’s support of his opponent would have minimal impact on the campaign. In the last week, a pro-Vance super PAC has received almost $5 million in new donations.
In a Wednesday interview, Vance said, “I would not have claimed a week ago that we were in a position to win convincingly.”
In a March 18 primary discussion between Mandel and fellow candidate Mike Gibbons, Mandel hurled an obscenity at Gibbons, prompting Vance to round on Mandel. Vance argued that Mandel’s conduct was unworthy of an Iraq veteran (Vance also served in Iraq).
He didn’t like Trump when he ran for president in 2016. Vance has since become a fan of the “America First” MAGA ideology after publicly supporting it.
In his support speech, Trump added JD is the most likely to defeat the weak, but threatening Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan. Trump hasn’t endorsed in Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, or Alabama.
After Rep. Mo Brooks said he no longer agreed with the former president’s untrue claims that the 2020 election was rigged, Trump dropped his endorsement of Brooks.